Preserve your brain health and preserve your life story!

Caucasian couple looking at photographs with grandchildren
Your life story

Your life story: it’s one of the most important assets you have.  It’s your identity, what makes you, you.  What’s more, it’s your family’s story that helps shape your personal life story.  Do you have fond memories of hearing stories about your family history shared with you by grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles?  Have those stories and collective wisdom helped shape who you are today?  We all want to be able to play a part in keeping our family story and our personal story alive and we do this by sharing our stories with the next generation.  But, none of this would be possible if we do not maintain a healthy brain as we age.  

As we age, we need to keep our memories and our minds sharp so that we can preserve our stories and share them.  One important thing you can do is maximize the health of your brain and strengthen your memory, in order to share your life story, keeping it alive.  Eating a well-balanced diet, getting exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and keeping your brain mentally stimulated by engaging in specific activities such as playing brain training games will all have a positive impact on your memory and the overall health of your brain.

Here are some of our other favorite ideas for preserving and sharing your family story:

    1. Begin a family newsletter or a family blog so that you can stay better connected with family members near and far.
    2. Start a scrapbook or photo album about your family.
    3. Put together a family cookbook.
    4. Research your family history (there are a myriad of free and paid online genealogy resources).
    5. Keep a journal and encourage your family members to do the same!
    6. Organize a family reunion.
  • Challenge your brain by playing Fit Brains so that you can stimulate your memory and share your story!

Take some time this month to connect with family members, reflect on your story, and take some steps to focus on your brain health, especially focusing on training your brain for a stronger memory.

It’s National Family Stories Month. What are your favorite ways to preserve and share your family’s story?  Share with us and other readers in the comments section!

Be sure to follow our blog for more lifestyle & health tips.  And, you can always challenge your brain when you play Fit Brains fun brain games!

Try Fit Brains for FREE Now!

Fit Brains.  “Brain Training Success”.

8 Tips & Tricks To Help You Remember Everyday Things!

“Where did I leave my keys?”
“What am I forgetting to buy?”
“What time is that meeting?”
“He just introduced himself a minute ago…and I already forgot his name.”

We all have those moments when our memory fails us on the seemingly simplest daily tasks and items to remember.  Although the occasional memory loss is probably inevitable, there are ways we can reduce the number of “blank out” moments in our lives.  Try using these 8 easy tricks to improve your memory for those small things in life!

1. Pay attention – Give the item you know you will need to remember your full, undivided attention when you first input it into your brain.  For example, listen to the introduction being given to you instead of worrying about what you need to say after, or take some time to think about everything you need to buy before you leave your home. 

2. Repeat it– With everything you need to remember, use a minute or two to repeat it over and over in your mind.  This works for locations, people, inanimate objects, exam notes…anything you want to stick and stay in your brain.

3. Use your senses – When you forget something, use all of your senses to try to remember it.  For example, if you forget where your first date with your significant other was, try to think about the things you touched, tasted, felt, smelled, saw, etc.  It is very likely one of these sensory cues will help you remember.

4. Associate it– Use random associations that make sense to you when you need to remember something.  

  • Rhymes: The new guy at work called Stan goes to the beach a lot = Tan Stan.
  • Mnemonics: I need to buy Beef, Ricotta cheese, Apples, Nuts, Donuts from the grocery store today = B.R.A.N.D
  • Personal links: I always leave my keys on the table below the family portrait = name your keys “Family Keys”

 

5. Create a routine – If you need to remember something on a continuous basis, like locking the door or feeding a pet, make it a routine.  Create a schedule and do the task at the exact same time in the exact same way every time you need to do it. 

6. Take a break – Sometimes you need to rest your brain a little before you put it to work again.  Even if something is at the tip of your tongue, overusing your brain will likely make you begin to doubt or confuse yourself.
 
7.  Write it down – When you have too many things to remember at once, just write it down!  The easiest way to “remember” is to make a concrete note.  Use sticky notes, mobile device reminders, voice recordings, etc. 

8. Play Fit Brains Trainer – Our app exercises stimulate your Memory, Processing Speed, Concentration, Problem-Solving, and Visual skills.  Fit Brains Trainer keeps your mind challenged so CLICK HERE to download the app now!

Leave a comment & let us know the tips and tricks you use to remember everyday things!

 

Aerobic Exercise, Hippocampal volume, and Spatial Memory

It has been know for some time that aerobic exercise and physical activity helps to increase cognitive function and perhaps delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study provides some explanation for how this might occur.

It is known that deterioration of the hippocampus occurs as part of the aging process. The hippocampus (i) is the structure deep in the middle of the temporal lobe that helps to form new memories and spatial memory. Changes in the structure and function occur in the hippocampus with advanced age, chronic stress, and Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast, studies indicate an enriched environment that includes physical activity can lead to neurogenesis in the hippocampus.

A recent study by Erickson and colleagues (2009) investigated high versus low levels of aerobic exercise in non-demented older adults on volume of the hippocampus and on spatial memory. Results indicate that higher fitness levels were associated with larger left and right hippocampi and larger hippocampi and higher fitness levels were related to better spatial memory performance.

The authors assert that higher levels of aerobic exercise are related to increased hippocampal volume in older humans, which translates to better memory performance.

Dr. Nussbaum, Chief Scientific Officer of Fitbrains, Inc. presents a brain health lifestyle that includes physical activity paulnussbaum.com .

Obesity and a Happy Brain

Brain HealthAs most of us get into middle age we might take special notice of our body’s ability to keep a few extra pounds around the waist. Most of us understand the importance of eating healthy and the disease risk associated with extra weight around the belly.

Recent research suggests the brain’s ability to sense gratification may be critical to overeating behavior. We may have a gene that assists us with knowing when we are filled after eating. Research now indicates that a brain that does not express satiation will lead to continued eating and increased risk of obesity.

We know that a healthy diet and regular exercise are very important for maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding obesity. However, genetics also plays a role in which an important neurochemical, Dopamine, may play a critical role. Dopamine is the primary neurochemical that regulates our pleasure sensation.

Eating temporarily boosts dopamine levels, but obesity may be associated with fewer Dopamine receptors which lead to less sensation of pleasure with eating. Research now suggests that the brain regions important to Dopamine expression when eating treats such as a milkshake does not get activated in those who are obese.

Interestingly, Dopamine has been studied as a primary mechanism for addiction and impulsive behavior including eating. Attempts are underway to try and understand how Dopamine might be triggered even in obesity to reduce impulsive eating so as to reduce gaining more weight. To read more about Dopamine, click here

Of Mice and Fries

A new study found mice that consumed junk food for nine months demonstrated signs of the abnormal brain tangles typically associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Indeed, a diet rich in fat, sugar, and cholesterol could increase the risk of the most common type of dementia.

The study published by the Karolinska Institute’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center found a chemical change in the brains that were fed the unhealthy diet, not unlike that found in the AD brain.

The researchers suggest a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic predisposition can adversely affect several brain substances that may contribute to onset of AD.

The combination of the gene type APOE-4, found in 15 to 20 percent of people and a known risk factor for AD, and the diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol led to the abnormal build up of the protein Tau and tangles. Interestingly, the animals also demonstrated reduced levels of another protein called Arc involved in memory storage.

The results offer another hint that AD may be attacked by lifestyle (diet) prior to its onset and progressive damage.

To read the original article, click here

Tips For Improving Memory

Tips for Improving Memory

Our memory helps to shape and define who we are, provide us with comfort, and guide us in our daily lives. While there are many different types of memory we tend to rely primarily on a type of memory that enables us to recall information presented to us either recently or sometime in the distant past.

Memory can be affected by many factors including level of stress, rest, nutrition, medical status, medications, alcohol, exercise, sensory function, hormones, and information processing ability. Common types of memory difficulties include inability to remember names, forgetting directions, forgetting where the car or other object is, and forgetting to complete a task in a specified order.

While it is true that our memory ability tends to decline as we age, a healthy older adult can recall quite well, particularly when given cues and prompts. Memory in late life should not be confused with disease such as Alzheimer’s that can impair memory. Here are some strategies and tips to assist you with your recall on a daily basis regardless of age:

1. Recognize what types of information and situations increase forgetfulness for  you. You may be able to identify particular factors that lead to your memory  problems and a change of these factors might help your recall.

2. Make sure your brain is well rested. You might be surprised to learn that a  fatigued brain will not process as deeply or as efficiently as a well rested brain.

3. Eat brain healthy foods such as fish, fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

4. Information that you need to encode will be recalled better if you repeat the  information to yourself several times.

5. If you have problems remembering names of people you meet continue to use  their names in every sentence when speaking to them. This is a type of normal  repetition that is polite and helpful to your processing.

6. Do not be ashamed to admit to someone that you have forgotten their name and  need to hear it again. Simply tell the person you are bad with names, but you are  trying  and can benefit if they provide his or her name again. At that point, refer  back to point # 5.

7. Lists are fine or small pocket book with cues and prompts can be very useful to  assist your recall.

8. Develop routines and fixed places for placement of items such as car keys. Your  brain will develop a subconscious process to place and retrieve objects with such  routine. This will then free up the conscious part of your brain to learn new
information.

9. Engage in memory exercises such as learning an increasingly larger list of words,  faces on cards, facts such as state capitals, and names of neighborhood family  members.

10. Learn how to relax and remove stress from your life. Memory is directly affected  by chronic stress and you will make mistakes when your brain is stressed.

11. Engage in a regular physical exercise routine as cardiovascular health can  increase learning and memory ability.

FitBrains has several mental exercise games that can assist your memory if you engage in a daily or regular brain fitness routine. Consider the following games by FitBrains for your memory workout:

Good luck and do not forget these memory tips!

Food and our Health

With regard to the human brain we can provide general advice about how to promote brain health across the lifespan. When we were cavemen and cavewomen we ate one good fat for every bad fat. Today, we eat about 15 bad fats for every good fat. This is important because our brains are composed of about 60% fat and the lipid substance helps to facilitate information processing.

Thinking live a cave person might be a good exercise when thinking about what to eat. We should try and eat plants/vegetables, nuts, beans, fruit, fish, and lean game such as chicken. We should try to reduce processed foods, red meat, trans fatty acids, soda and foods high in sugar. We should strive to eat less than more and use utensils more often as it might help to less consumption of food and a healthier consumption of foods.

It is also important to realize that foods are supposed to be pleasurable and that an occasional piece of cake, pie, ice cream, etc will not cause major damage to the system. This is particularly true when one follows some of the general advice above.

I personally have begun a study of my own diet with increased intake of fruits and vegetables, reduction in processed fats, removal of soda from the diet, and increased fish and lean chicken. It is not uncommon for me to now have fruit in the am and day with a salad (olive oil and vinegar are good for the brain), and a piece of fish or chicken at night. I have been relatively consistent though I fail now and then. I am observing change in body mass and in psychology including energy and mental alertness.

Stay tuned and I will provide you an update in the near future!